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David P. McGivern

Vancouver, BC Canada
  • 42
  • reviews
  • 578
  • helpful votes
  • 110
  • ratings
  • Ali

  • A Life
  • By: Jonathan Eig
  • Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
  • Length: 22 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 141
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 131

He was the wittiest, the prettiest, the strongest, the bravest, and, of course, the greatest (as he told us over and over again). Muhammad Ali was one of the 20th century's greatest radicals and most compelling figures. At his funeral in 2016, eulogists said Ali had transcended race and united the country, but they got it wrong. Race was the theme of Ali's life. He insisted that America come to grips with a black man who wasn't afraid to speak out or break the rules. He didn't overcome racism. He called it out.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Left me Conflicted

  • By David P. McGivern on 10-26-17

Left me Conflicted

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-17

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone.

And I say that never having followed (or, for that matter, been interested in, in the slightest] boxing

The language and story telling is clear; the story interesting; the narrator fine

BUT: ( a big but)

The longer it went on, the more I was struck by the contrast between the adulation that Ali produced, and the lifestyle which, absent the misplaced adoration we place on athletes, was really quite despicable in many ways. Yes, he was sometimes kind. Yes, he was a great [although arguably not THE GREATEST) boxer. But his behaviour lifestyle was almost 100% narcissistic, self absorbed, and hurtful to those who cared for him. He slept with constant women, often prostitutes, often teenagers, without any regard that the hurt this caused his first, second, and then third wife. He slept with women in the same hotel as his wife was staying, he slept with them in his own home when his children were on another floor. He didn't care. His own self-described lifestyle was "Wee! Me!!!". I guess such selfishness is excused if you're a good athlete. Despite earning over $50 million, he was in constant financial difficulties, something difficult to the stomach given how many millions of people don't even earn a percentile of that. His first wife was left in poverty,. his children competed for his attention with those who fawned over him.He thought being a father was too much of a restriction on his lifestyle. And on and on. Even the source of much of the adulation, his stand against racism, was inconsistent with calling Joe Frazier a "gorilla" or his use of the N-word with (on) him.

So the longer I listened, the greater the gap became between Ali the man and Ali the legend. The longer I listened, I thought the legend was without foundation.

I'm not saying this isn't a book worth buying. It is. It's an interesting story. I just didn't buy into the legend. Or, better put, the book reinforced that the "athlete as peacock" ( a phrase used in the book] is just that, peacock over a "real "human being

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • My Thoughts Be Bloody

  • The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth
  • By: Nora Titone, Doris Kearns Goodwin (introduction and notes)
  • Narrated by: John B. Lloyd
  • Length: 19 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 118
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 118

My Thoughts Be Bloody, a sweeping family saga, revives an extraordinary figure whose name has been missing, until now, from the story of President Lincoln's death. Edwin Booth, John Wilkes's older brother by four years, was in his day the biggest star of the American stage. Without an account of Edwin Booth, author Nora Titone argues, the real story of Lincoln's assassin has never been told.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful!

  • By Tad Davis on 11-30-10

Ok, but could stand a bit of editing

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-06-17

I bought this audiobook because this week I finished, and enjoyed much more than I had expected, the (print) historical fiction of the Booths in " Fate and Traitors" by Jennifer Chiaverini ( which Audible offers as an audiobook). I picked up "Fate" on a whim from the library ( hey, it was free) and was quite taken with the Booths ( plural) story. Although I have listened to or read a fair amount of American Civil War history, I had no idea of the Booth family history. That Wilkes' father and brother were, respectively, in their own way and time, as famous as (for example) Brad Pitt or George Clooney are in our time.

Though notionally fiction, Chiaverini's book is a very fact -based telling. As to " My Thoughts Be Bloody" - it told - almost identically - the same story, but ( I confess) after 17 or 18 hours, I was saying to myself "yes, I get it, I've heard the rivalry told in a different way at hour 8 ( or 11 or 15). Narration was "acceptable". Not stellar, but not bad.

If you have not read or listened to " Fate" then by all means get " "My Thoughts Be Bloody". If you have a choice, I recommend " Fate"

But both - here (finally..) is the point - tell of a VERY interesting ( if not weird) family, a compelling Civil War story

  • The World Remade

  • America in World War I
  • By: G. J. Meyer
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 24 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 203
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 185

After years of bitter debate, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany on April 6, 1917, plunging the country into the savage European conflict that would redraw the map of the continent - and the globe. The World Remade is an engrossing chronicle of America's pivotal, still controversial intervention into World War I, encompassing the tumultuous politics and towering historical figures that defined the era and forged the future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • "100% America" - a disturbing place to be

  • By David P. McGivern on 04-01-17

"100% America" - a disturbing place to be

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-01-17

I recommend this without hesitation. I have two other histories from Mr. Myer in my library, the prequel to this one " A World Undone" ( a history of WW!) and his history of the Tudors. I consider this ( " A World Remade") to be his best.

First what it is not. It is not a detailed history of the causes of,or events leading to and which occurred during, World War I (with heroic Britain, France and then America standing up against the evil German Empire). Neither is it a detailed recitation of the various battles (in other words, it was not co-authored by Max Hastings). It is, rather, a fascinating description of American society before, during and after the War, and a disturbing one at that.

He of course has to establish the context of America's consideration of the War, which he does, throughout, in a more nuanced presentation that many (most) books on this terrible time in history. He describes, for example, the somewhat hypocritical attitude of Britain condemning the war atrocities of Germany all the while engaging in an unlawful sea blockade that starved millions of civilians both during the war and for as long as six months after the fighting stopped ( thus giving a reason why Germany, for it's survival, had to ( during the War) engage in U-boat retaliation). He describes the mood of the country, isolationist or no, and the support of Britain and France by America from the outset
(notwithstanding the supposed assertion by Wilson that America was "neutral")

Most startling is Mr. Myer's descriptions ( he gives many, many examples) of the extent to which President Wilson ( and Congress) suspended civil liberties almost completely after the war began. People could be, and were, jailed for upwards of 10, 15, 20 years merely for criticizing either himself or the war effort. Newspapers were shut down. Journalists were jailed. Unless one was "100% American" ( no ethnics need apply) they were shunned, mistreated, put out of business. Criticism of any kind was not tolerated - one bit.

He concludes, less interesting for me, with a detailed description of Wilson's post-War attempts to establish the League of Nations, resisted by Congress and the Senate.

Unlike the most recent (and worth reading/listening to) biography of President Wilson by Scott Berg, mostly supportive of the man, Meyer is very critical of the President, describing him as self-righteous, intolerant, and rigid.

Mr. Meyer repeats his usual pattern of breaking up the chapters with "Background" information, all interesting in and of themselves. His prose is clear, concise.

No problem with Mr. Shapiro's narration, Always a critical factor for me when I am ordering the book.

This book is so detailed I will probably listen to it a second time in the future

Highly recommended.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Romeo and Juliet: A Novel

  • By: David Hewson
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 11 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,018
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 956
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 953

It's a story you think you know: the age-old tale of "star-cross'd lovers"; two families at war; a romance, so pure and absolute, fated for a tragic end. It's a story so thoroughly embedded in our culture, and so frequently retold. Yet, nothing captures the spark, the possibility, and the surprise of Shakespeare's work quite like this....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Story and The Voice

  • By Abiwim on 12-14-16

Wonderful, Imaginative

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-13-16

This is so very, very good.

A million years ago, when I was a young teenager, I was captivated by the 1968 Zeffirelli film/interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, and very seldom does any production come close to that initial charm. This does. A different forum, I agree, but the combination of Mr. Hewson's interpretation of Shakespeare [he does not follow of the play completely] and Mr. Armitage's superb, wonderful, wonderful narration makes this a five star rating for me.

I've been an Audible customer for almost a decade now, many many books, and more and more I choose the narrator first, the subject second; British narrators first, everybody else second. Add in Shakespearean acting experience for the narrator, and everything comes together.

Highly recommended.

51 of 55 people found this review helpful

  • Passchendaele

  • Requiem for Doomed Youth
  • By: Paul Ham
  • Narrated by: Robert Meldrum
  • Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 65
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 66

From Paul Ham, winner of the NSW Premier's Prize for Australian History, comes the story of ordinary men in the grip of a political and military power struggle that determined their fate and has foreshadowed the destiny of the world for a century. Passchendaele epitomises everything that was most terrible about the Western Front. The photographs never sleep of this four-month battle, fought from July to November 1917, the worst year of the war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very compelling - good story, good narration

  • By David P. McGivern on 11-25-16

Very compelling - good story, good narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-25-16

Like many I am sure, I have read + listened to a lot of World War ! and World War 2 books. Not sure why I chose this book ( somewhat on impulse) as, of late, I have "moved" out of these two eras in search of other histories - Napoleon, Rome, American Civil War etc. But I ended up being enthralled ( engaged) with "Passchendaele". Mr Ham is an excellent story teller, both about the leaders ( Lloyd -George, Haig) and the war as experienced by "ordinary soldiers". His writing is clear, precise, opinionated ( in a good way) and ( at times) moving.

As a Canadian, I am embarrassed to say I knew little about Passchendaele ( this, along with Vimy Ridge, is considered a battle in which the Canadians stood out ( and stood apart from the British for a change) and Mr Ham does a good job in outlining their role. Although notionally told from an "Aussie" viewpoint, "Passchendaele" is really about this one senseless battle in the context of the whole war ( the latter which he explains in background as we proceed)

Mr Meldrums narration added to my enjoyment.

An excellent book

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Jewish Gospel of John

  • Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel
  • By: Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
  • Narrated by: Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
  • Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110

The Jewish Gospel of John is not, by any standard, another book on Jesus of Nazareth written from a Jewish perspective. It is an invitation to the listener to put aside their traditional understanding of the Gospel of John and to replace it with another one more faithful to the original text perspective. The Jesus that will emerge will provoke you to rethink most of what you knew about this gospel.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A timely revisiting of John's gospel of grace

  • By Tim Perrin on 06-13-16

could not finish

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-13-16

I have a University Degree in Religious Studies, and understood what Mr Eyzenberg was talking about ( anyone who does not have SOME background in RS as an academic discipline I suggest will be totally lost after 4 minutes.....) but even still, this could not keep my interest beyond @5 hours ( and I hate abandoning books). Would have made an interesting 5-10 page article, not a detailed and exhaustive book on his point. Might recommend as a book to be read, but not as an audiobook to try and take in without text

6 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • The Third Reich at War

  • By: Richard J. Evans
  • Narrated by: Sean Pratt
  • Length: 35 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 873
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 677
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 671

Evans interweaves a broad narrative of the war’s progress with viscerally affecting personal testimony from a wide range of people - from generals to front-line soldiers, from Hitler Youth activists to middle-class housewives. The Third Reich at War lays bare the dynamics of a nation more deeply immersed in war than any society before or since. Fresh insights into the conflict’s great events are here, from the invasion of Poland to the Battle of Stalingrad to Hitler’s suicide in the bunker.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Masterful

  • By Karen on 09-03-10

better than I expected in some ways, others, not

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-13-16

This series have been extensively reviewed by others, so ( for whomever follows me) I add my .2 worth

First as to Mr Pratt. Narrators are always very important to me, i.e., I will pass on good story with a bad narrator 100% of the time. For years I passed on this series, though it interested me, because of the scathing reviews of Mr Pratt. Finally, though, with nothing else interesting to me at the moment...I just dove in and took a chance with him. He was ....fine. He did not detract from my listening. Hugely bad for many, I acknowledge. Ok for me.

I listened to all 3 series in one go, all 90+ hours, and this very brief review is for all 3

First the good. The 1st book, " The Coming of the Third Reich" I feel is the best of the 3. Anyone who is going to listen to 90+ hrs on Nazi Germany, me included, are familiar with this time in history, I suspect. But many start circa 1933 or so, and Evans gives a very interesting background explanation of Germany 1890 or so-1939. Compelling. Well worth the listen

The Bad: The 2nd book, I agree with so many others, is mind numbing in its minutiae of society under Nazi rule. Everything. Government .Artists. Writers. Teachers. Students. Bankers.Dairy farmers ( broken down into sub categories of dairy farmers.....). On and on and on. Boring. Wish this book was 15 hours, not 35

And what was missing for me: of course Mr Evans covers the persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust in detail ( and then some). But he describes, rather than explores or tries to explain, why it happened. Meaning he tells you ( as an example) german soldiers threw babies against walls to crush their skulls, but does not attempt to explain, or try to explain, how so many became so..evil ( I know he cannot succeed but others have tried). How men such as these could have reached such depravity, or murdered so many millions, with such ( apparent ) indifference ( this is not entirely accurate - he does mention the psychological damage on some, but overall, the reader is left wanting.)

Do I recommend the series? Yes to the first book, yes to the 3rd, and no to the 2nd ( so get only if you are unlike myself who compulsively has to listen to every single minute of an audiobook before I can satisfy myself I have listened to it)

  • Steve Jobs

  • By: Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by: Dylan Baker
  • Length: 25 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24,488
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,589
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,552

Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting man

  • By Jeanne on 11-13-11

Very pleasantly surprised

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-07-16

Ok, even though I have a MacBook Air, 2 iPads ( one for me, one for my son), multiple versions of iPods, multiple versions of iPhones, and subscribe ( satisfactorily) to Apple Music, I had, until this week, no interest in reading or listening to " Steve Jobs" because I thought (a) Jobs treated people like crap ( often) so why would I waste my time on such a jerk? and (b) he was nothing more than a good marketer, and I did not understand the adulation. Isaacson changed so many of these views. Yes, he says, Jobs DID treat people like crap ( often) but he was very much more, and Isaacson kept me totally interested from start to finish. He described not only what Apple was, and is, and the development of the various products, but also the complexity of Jobs, often obsessive, often visionary, often mean. I had no regrets for the time spent. I recommend it and will now probably move on to another biography by Isaacson ( about a man equally if not more diverse, Kissinger) simply because he ( Isaacson) writes so well. Narrator Dylon not my favorite, but no bad either

  • The First Triumvirate of Rome

  • Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, and the Fall of the Roman Republic
  • By: Clifford Alexander
  • Narrated by: Saethon Williams
  • Length: 3 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars 2

The first century BC was a watershed for the development of the Roman state. It was a century characterized by near-incessant warfare and political strife in Rome, evidence that a new form of government was necessary to rule over its new extensive conquests. It was becoming apparent to the traditional ruling elite that the ancient military superpower was beginning to undergo an uneasy transition from republic to imperial power.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • really. really. bad

  • By David P. McGivern on 01-20-16

really. really. bad

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-20-16

The only reason I finished this was because it was short. I otherwise would have abandoned it

I bought because I am reading Robert Harris' (3 of 3 in the trilogy): "Dictator", essentially the same time period told from Cicero's viewpoint ( actually, his servant Tiro). Two reasons why I disliked The First Triumvirate. One, the narrator. Somehow, he managed to be both too fast, and too boring, simultaneously. Two, the content. Instead of discussing how the Triumvirate came together, the relationship between the men, it focused mainly, not completely, but mainly, on the singular stories of each individual man. In other words, a discussion, on and on and on, of Caesar's battles in Gaul. And Pompey's battles.Then Crassus' fall in Syria. Battle. By battle. By battle.

To be fair, the book somewhat touches on the impact of the Triumvirate, it's effect on the Republic, but compared to what I have described above...not so much.

This, combined with the very poor narration, causes me to conclude: give this a pass. Even if you are wanting a brief history of what -appears - to be interesting. There are far better histories (books) of this fascinating time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts

  • By: Andrew Chaikin
  • Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
  • Length: 23 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,645
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,465
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,456

Audie Award, History/Biography, 2016. On the night of July 20, 1969, our world changed forever when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Based on in-depth interviews with 23 of the 24 moon voyagers, as well as those who struggled to get the program moving, A Man on the Moon conveys every aspect of the Apollo missions with breathtaking immediacy and stunning detail.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Long, comforting book on moon exploration

  • By Mark on 06-17-16

More interesting than expected

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-22-15

I bought this because i wanted a change from World War 1 or 2, or badly written novels. I'm old enough to remember watching the Apollo 11 landing ( we here in Canada were as interested as the rest of the world) but like most others, my knowledge of the Space Program went no further than watching the Tom Hanks Apollo 13 movie. I was surprised with how ( for the most part) engaging it was. I agree it was written for listeners such as myself ( not too scientific or technical) and I quite liked learning about the astronauts as people, their fears, courage, determination, families. Some parts near the end dragged ( the discussion of geology and collection of samples from the moon) but overall......worth a listen

22 of 27 people found this review helpful